20070228

abundance?

I would like to pause from my series on Health at Every Size and address something else that I've wanted to.

We're closer than we think to an age when gasoline becomes a luxury and restaurant meals become unattainable.

What happens when you put two hungry toddlers in a cage and place one delicious cupcake between them? You have a crazy fight in which neither of the two cuddlies really gets hurt but only one of them will end up with most of the cupcake. That is what happens naturally when people are faced with scarcity. They seek to improve their condition, by whatever means necessary.

What do you think will happen with this planet's resources?

They will run out eventually. They will all be used. Although that won't happen for quite some time, I'll tell you what will happen, sooner than later.

These precious resources, petroleum, water, food, energy, and culture. They will all become scarce and more expensive. When it becomes too expensive for most of the world's population to have air conditioning in the summer heat and food on the table, people may fight to get what they need.

This is understandable. People need to eat and they need to be cool and comfortable. People have fought over resources since people began farming so many years ago. This isn't new. What is new is that most of the population will suddenly be cast into a sea of nothing. Not enough money to buy cool stuff like plane tickets or hotel rooms because those things cost way to much money. We are seeing this already. The price of oil is a massive force behind world inflation. The higher and higher prices equate to fuel surcharges on everything from a mail order delivery to a restaurant bill. Money just doesn't have the purchasing power that it used to. That trend shall continue.

Unfortunately I do not have a solution. All the human species can do is delay that through the practice of conservation. Please forgive my pessimistic attitude but the only answer I have isn't realistic. Space travel. That isn't possible at this point in human technological evolution. Thank you dark ages.

The point of this post is to call your attention to a very inevitable future and to perhaps cause you to be more appreciating of what you already have. Everyone in this world doesn't have the option to run out to a 24 hour waste of space that is Wal-Mart and buy a banana or a music CD that is cleverly edited for your protection.

Appreciate your position now. And work towards improving it in the future.

20070221

Health at Every Size Part 4

I experienced one of the worst moments in my life one day. Listening to my younger relatives debating which food item was better; sunflower seeds or Coca-Cola Classic. According to them the Coca-Cola Classic was better because it had fewer calories [per serving] than the seeds. I tried to tell them about the disastrous effect the sugar would have on their tiny bodies but to no avail.

They were absolutely convinced that the stuff they learned from their precious television and teen magazines was superior to what I've read in various research studies or textbooks. The media is pervasive in its misinformation.

Our society's obsession with thinness is to blame for this. Women in particular are relentlessly pressured to conform to unrealistic body shapes and sizes. This wreaks havoc on the body image and self-esteem of all women.

This is a list of likely consequences of continuing our obsession with thinness:
  • anorexia nervosa
  • bulimia
  • binge eating
  • disordered eating and exercise behavior
  • increasing rates of smoking in young girls
  • body hatred
  • exportation of dangerous and ineffective interventions to other countries
People need to move towards a healthy weight. A healthy weight is the weight at which a person's body settles as they move towards a balanced lifestyle. This does not suggest that a person's current weight is their healthy weight. It suggests that a healthy lifestyle will, for most people, produce a weight that is appropriate for that person.

As a society we need to move towards being physically active and healthy unrestrained eating. We must consider all the factors of wellness. Social, emotional, spiritual, etc.

The three main things we need to really get on top of are:
  1. Self acceptance: Affirmation of human beauty and worth irrespective of size and shape.
  2. Pleasurable physical activity: Support for increasing social, pleasure-based movement for enjoyment and enhance quality of life.
  3. Normalized eating: Support for discarding externally imposed rules and regimens for eating and attaining a more peaceful relationship with food by relearning to direct food intake in response to hunger, appetite and satiety cues.

Health at Every Size Part 3

IT IS NOT SAFE to attempt to lose weight. Weight loss attempts can lead to a variety of risks. Weight loss is ESPECIALLY dangerous for lean individuals because they may lose more lean body mass than larger people. Low calorie diets are especially dangerous because they may produce side effects such as fatigue, electrolyte imbalance, hair loss, altered metabolism, gallstone formation, excessive loss of lean body mass, and DEATH. These risks are increased with the intake of protein liquid supplements, laxatives, or self-induced vomiting.

Those fancy surgical procedures are also highly risky. These procedures, similar to what Star Jones received, are not supported by clinical trials to be an appropriate treatment for obesity. Disruption of stomach function as a result of these procedures can result in negative consequences for skeletal, immune, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems.

Caloric restriction may lead to irritability, depression, and food/eating obsession. Repeated failures at weight loss produce psychological stressors often resulting self-guilt or self-hatred.
Eating disorders may develop in individuals attempting to lose weight.

In America, fat people are taught to feel guilty and blame themselves for the failures of weight loss programs, and to expect and accept rejection, mistreatment and discrimination based on their weight. $30 - 50 billion is invested in weight loss programs. 95% of that results in failure.

It is obvious that doing what the weight loss industry wants people to do is not benefiting anyone. In fact it is detrimental to people emotionally, psychologically, physically, and financially.

20070216

American Anthropological Association Statement on Race

May 1998

In the United States both scholars and the general public have been conditioned to viewing human races as natural and separate divisions within the human species based on visible physical differences. With the vast expansion of scientific knowledge in this century, however, it has become clear that human populations are not unambiguous, clearly demarcated, biologically distinct groups. Evidence from the analysis of genetics (e.g., DNA) indicates that most physical variation, about 94%, lies within so-called racial groups. Conventional geographic "racial" groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes. This means that there is greater variation within "racial" groups than between them. In neighboring populations there is much overlapping of genes and their phenotypic (physical) expressions. Throughout history whenever different groups have come into contact, they have interbred. The continued sharing of genetic materials has maintained all of humankind as a single species.

Physical variations in any given trait tend to occur gradually rather than abruptly over geographic areas. And because physical traits are inherited independently of one another, knowing the range of one trait does not predict the presence of others. For example, skin color varies largely from light in the temperate areas in the north to dark in the tropical areas in the south; its intensity is not related to nose shape or hair texture. Dark skin may be associated with frizzy or kinky hair or curly or wavy or straight hair, all of which are found among different indigenous peoples in tropical regions. These facts render any attempt to establish lines of division among biological populations both arbitrary and subjective.

Historical research has shown that the idea of "race" has always carried more meanings than mere physical differences; indeed, physical variations in the human species have no meaning except the social ones that humans put on them. Today scholars in many fields argue that "race" as it is understood in the United States of America was a social mechanism invented during the 18th century to refer to those populations brought together in colonial America: the English and other European settlers, the conquered Indian peoples, and those peoples of Africa brought in to provide slave labor.

From its inception, this modern concept of "race" was modeled after an ancient theorem of the Great Chain of Being, which posited natural categories on a hierarchy established by God or nature. Thus "race" was a mode of classification linked specifically to peoples in the colonial situation. It subsumed a growing ideology of inequality devised to rationalize European attitudes and treatment of the conquered and enslaved peoples. Proponents of slavery in particular during the 19th century used "race" to justify the retention of slavery. The ideology magnified the differences among Europeans, Africans, and Indians, established a rigid hierarchy of socially exclusive categories underscored and bolstered unequal rank and status differences, and provided the rationalization that the inequality was natural or God-given. The different physical traits of African-Americans and Indians became markers or symbols of their status differences.

As they were constructing US society, leaders among European-Americans fabricated the cultural/behavioral characteristics associated with each "race," linking superior traits with Europeans and negative and inferior ones to blacks and Indians. Numerous arbitrary and fictitious beliefs about the different peoples were institutionalized and deeply embedded in American thought.

Early in the 19th century the growing fields of science began to reflect the public consciousness about human differences. Differences among the "racial" categories were projected to their greatest extreme when the argument was posed that Africans, Indians, and Europeans were separate species, with Africans the least human and closer taxonomically to apes.

Ultimately "race" as an ideology about human differences was subsequently spread to other areas of the world. It became a strategy for dividing, ranking, and controlling colonized people used by colonial powers everywhere. But it was not limited to the colonial situation. In the latter part of the 19th century it was employed by Europeans to rank one another and to justify social, economic, and political inequalities among their peoples. During World War II, the Nazis under Adolf Hitler enjoined the expanded ideology of "race" and "racial" differences and took them to a logical end: the extermination of 11 million people of "inferior races" (e.g., Jews, Gypsies, Africans, homosexuals, and so forth) and other unspeakable brutalities of the Holocaust.

"Race" thus evolved as a world view, a body of prejudgments that distorts our ideas about human differences and group behavior. Racial beliefs constitute myths about the diversity in the human species and about the abilities and behavior of people homogenized into "racial" categories. The myths fused behavior and physical features together in the public mind, impeding our comprehension of both biological variations and cultural behavior, implying that both are genetically determined. Racial myths bear no relationship to the reality of human capabilities or behavior. Scientists today find that reliance on such folk beliefs about human differences in research has led to countless errors.

At the end of the 20th century, we now understand that human cultural behavior is learned, conditioned into infants beginning at birth, and always subject to modification. No human is born with a built-in culture or language. Our temperaments, dispositions, and personalities, regardless of genetic propensities, are developed within sets of meanings and values that we call "culture." Studies of infant and early childhood learning and behavior attest to the reality of our cultures in forming who we are.

It is a basic tenet of anthropological knowledge that all normal human beings have the capacity to learn any cultural behavior. The American experience with immigrants from hundreds of different language and cultural backgrounds who have acquired some version of American culture traits and behavior is the clearest evidence of this fact. Moreover, people of all physical variations have learned different cultural behaviors and continue to do so as modern transportation moves millions of immigrants around the world.

How people have been accepted and treated within the context of a given society or culture has a direct impact on how they perform in that society. The "racial" world view was invented to assign some groups to perpetual low status, while others were permitted access to privilege, power, and wealth. The tragedy in the United States has been that the policies and practices stemming from this world view succeeded all too well in constructing unequal populations among Europeans, Native Americans, and peoples of African descent. Given what we know about the capacity of normal humans to achieve and function within any culture, we conclude that present-day inequalities between so-called "racial" groups are not consequences of their biological inheritance but products of historical and contemporary social, economic, educational, and political circumstances.

20070208

Health At Every Size part 2

Millions of Americans are struggling or have struggled with weight related concerns.

American society has recently been preoccupied with thinness, exerting enormous pressure on people, especially women to be thin. Unrealistically thin. The evidence:
  • Female television actors are more likely to be thin than male actors
  • Females receive more marketing messages to be thin from magazine articles and advertisements than do males
  • Women directly relate physical appearance with self-esteem and are less satisfied with their body shape than men
  • Women view their own bodies more aesthetically while men view their own bodies as forms of function and activity
  • Thin males have been rated intelligent but likely to be teased, while thin females have been considered to be more attractive than their friends
The media plays an important role in this. The evidence:
  • Television depicts situations where thin people prosper and larger people are ridiculed
  • Between 1970 & 1990 there was an overall increased emphasis on weight loss and body shape in the content of popular women's magazines, as well as a change in the portrayal of female models to a thinner shape.
  • Playboy magazine increased the promotion of slimness over the period of 1959 to 1978
  • Miss America Pageant exhibitions were found to be thinner over time. Since 1970 the pageant winners have been subsequently thinner.
Even health professionals were convinced that weight was a risk factor for premature death. However, it is better to be fit and fat, than unfit and thin.
Current evidence does NOT support the idea that it is better to be thin than to be fat.

20070205

Health At Every Size part 1

My commentary on the Health At Every Size model of weight-loss.

Part 1

There is overwhelming evidence to show that losing weight and losing fat is easy. There is overwhelming evidence to show that keeping it off is a much larger problem. There is also evidence of potentially dangerous and psychological consequences related to the weight loss and weight gain cycles.

Despite an increasing epidemic of dangerous eating disorders people continue to spend billions of dollars yearly on weight-loss related products and weight loss through dietary restriction.

This is particularly damaging for young girls and women who are continually pressured to invest significant energy into pursuing the supermodel body shape. However, this "idea" body shape is neither healthy or attainable for a MAJORITY of women.

Men suffer as well. Body image disorders for men are on the rise. This fear of fat plays havoc on a person's body image, exercise habits and eating behavior.

Where does this pressure to be thin come from? Are we born with the mentality that thin is in?

Or could it be that we are conditioned into thinking this way? Yes, it could be.

The fashion, diet, cosmetic, commercial fitness and pharmaceutical industry all contribute to this social conditioning that drives us to target larger individuals as the subjects of ridicule. Stop judging people based on their appearance. You have not lived their life. You do not know what they face each day. You can never know. All you know is who and what you are, if that.

There is a paradigm shift to break the cycle of weight loss and regain and work towards making positive changes to improve quality of life, regardless of weight status.